[play .mp3]
back to christmas

by Miracle Jones

Cuspis Primo (Manus Dextra: Spiritus)

The knives in the wind say that Christmas is coming. It is NYC, Anno Domini 1967. Pringles, Twix, and Gatorade have just been invented by valorous New Jersey wizards in gleaming labs across the river. However, the only snacks available at Dracula—the East Village bar where Elektrifikatsiya Mira Arena is pulled after work every day on strings of habit like a wobbly plastic Tuggy Tooter—are stale popcorn and pickled lemons.

Dracula is never crowded. She comes here because it is usually safe from gangly longhair renunciants with unpowdered, credulous faces. Their smug Close-Up grins reeking of weed and Tang make her feel violence. Tonight, however, despite its aggressive uncoolness, Dracula is full of mysterious revelers that she doesn’t recognize. This is unacceptable!

“Is there a poetry reading here or something?” Electrakat asks, throwing her head back and bringing her hand to her throat dramatically.

Vilen the bartender shakes his chins. He looks up at her with his rheumy guilty-baby eyes and then he stares back down again at his cocktail onions and his giant ruffle-edge luxury napkins. He straightens some highball glasses and adjusts his lime wedges so that they are all facing the same way. Electrakat is momentarily mesmerized by the way that none of the many rings on his stubby fingers fall off as he works. Vilen has hit on her often enough over the years that she can tell that Vilen is holding something back.

“What’s going on, then?” she asks. “All of these people seem very liberal.”

“Satanists, not liberals,” Vilen blurts out, baring his egg-yolk yellow teeth. “Devil-worshippers! I told them they could have the bar for the night. It’s a lot of business. What do I have against the devil? Nothing.”

She comes to Dracula mainly because she feels vibrant and fit among the pasty Eastern European expats slouching to death on their stools. These refugees are slowly decomposing in public, swapping stories about reds versus whites, about who got liquidated in what shitty Balkan town, about what Khrushchev is really like in person (an illiterate cucumber farmer). They argue about where the missiles are actually pointed (at the ice caps to melt them in order to finally make Russia as balmy as Crimea), and about which members of Johnson’s cabinet are actually Chinese spies (McNamara, Rusk, probably Goldberg). These arguments are all very soothing to Electrakat. She was born overseas to Italo-Russian Communists and so this kind of ambient nattering is damn near amniotic. Not that her parents are partisans anymore. America’s orthogonal political sorting has had its effect: her parents, once ardent Stalinists, now can’t even bring themselves to vote Democrat. 

Tonight, however, most of the palsied reactionaries at Dracula have been chased away. Those who remain have all been pushed into the corners of the bar to skulk, making evil magic with their big bad faces. The youths who have taken over the place (Satanists—not liberals!) are well-groomed and seem polite. She notes with fascination that some of the women are wearing form-fitting red leather jumpsuits. Maybe this is interesting?  Maybe this is good?

Two men with shaved heads and trimmed goatees, draped to their bare feet in cowls of purple velvet, set up an altar using liquor boxes pilfered from the basement. They drape the cardboard altar with a dark blanket that seems to shimmer as it settles. On top of the box they place a candelabra and a human skull. 

Electrakat points at the skull accusingly.

“That’s a real skull,” she says to Vilen. 

“Who doesn’t have a skull for luck?” says Vilen. “I have one in my apartment. Your parents have a skull, I assure you. My skull’s name is Misha. He was boiled alive a hundred years ago. Got the glove treatment during a cholera outbreak for hoarding leeches.”

“The glove treatment?”

“His arms were dunked to the elbows in boiling bogwater until his skin puffed up. The top layer was peeled off like grapeskins by filthy sadist peasants with shit running into their clogs. At least, that’s the story my grandmother tells with a sparkle in her eye.”

Vilen looks slightly to her left. Electrakat realizes that there is a man sitting beside her who wasn’t there before. Poof! 

She jumps, nearly spilling her drink. The man is all the way turned toward her on his barstool, leering like a demon from illuminated marginalia. Vilen immediately moves away, wiping down the bar as he retreats, always and forever on the side of predators.

“You are here on accident and not on purpose,” says the man matter-of-factly. “But that doesn’t mean you don’t belong here.”

“Oh come on, fuck off,” she says, though not uninvitingly.

He is dressed in simple black slacks and a black shirt. He looks like he is in early thirties, but this might be deception. His face is lined around his eyes and mouth. He has the sallow, toned appearance of a chain-smoker, but his teeth are white and his honey-colored eyes are clear and sharp. He doesn’t look down her shirt or at her legs. This makes her nervous. Instead, his eyes dart from her mouth to her forehead, as if he is ogling her high chakras. She swivels her legs away from him, regarding him over her bare shoulder.

“Frankly, I find the true believers here rather embarrassing,” he says. “What’s the point of ecstatic fervor when you know the tabernacle is empty? Why not be as lazy as you want?”

She realizes all of a sudden that the bar is very crowded. There are a lot of dark suits and bright, low-cut dresses. Most of the devil-worshippers are younger than the man beside her. Kids, really. The men wear eyeshadow to make themselves look more haunted. The women wear bright red lipstick and heels. Heels!   

The man on the stool next to her points at one woman who is wearing a purple cowl, just the same as the barefoot men setting up the altar. Her blonde hair is shorn down to stubble.

“She’s the real star,” he says. “She has been chastised for a fortnight—humbled against her nature—and tonight she will perform the rites of the flesh for anyone who requests them from her.”

“You mean like fucking and sucking?” says Electrakat. 

“Satan loves infidelity in his brides,” says the man. “Satan likes to watch. Satan earns his horns.”

The two bearded priests light the candelabra.

 “I work in television,” says Electrakat. “Have you seen the news lately? I can’t be shocked. At least no one here is playing any folk guitar while weeping at their own songs about the war.”
“All music is consecrated to the dark lord,” says the man. “But yes, no folk harmonies for us. Only sweet dissonance and machine cacophony. Only the Electric Lucifer. We are trying to open a portal into hell, after all, so that the annihilating energy of sex and death can pour in and consume our fears, turning this fuel into endless light.”

“Your pants aren’t even flared, I must admit,” says Electrakat.  “Not even the whiff of a bell-bottom. The tapered line hugs your calf. Do people make fun of you on the street when you are walking around? Do they call you a stiff? A square?”

“The dark lord rewards discipline,” says the man. “My strict sartorial containment is also an offering.”

He holds out his hand palm down for her to shake, as if he is slipping her a piece of paper.

“My name is Otto Tod Haas,” he says. 

“Elektrifikatsiya Mira,” she says. 

He blinks at her, momentarily confused. 

“Elektrakat,” she says. 

“This is the Church of Teeth, Electrakat,” he says. “The Church of No-Sin. We’re Practical Satanists, congregated only to help each other become more active with respect to our desires instead of passive victims to them. We’re victims of god, recovering together.”

“Working in television isn’t much different,” she says. “You should check out the West Village. I think sin has been defeated in this here town, pal. It’s charming that you are trying to bring it back, I guess.”

“Yes, television,” he says. “Television is one of the six Great Workings.”

A sensual-looking man with a soft mouth at the bottom of his pear-shaped face comes out of the bathroom wearing a short cape. He takes his place at the end of the bar, sitting at the bend where it curves toward the door. He nestles among the thick coaxial cables, fiddling with turntables and an array of speakers.

“I guess you can tell that this church is a bit of a hustle,” Otto Tod Haas murmurs under his breath. “But we’re all in on it, aren’t we? Isn’t fantasy better when there aren’t any smirkers? Despite the essential silliness, these good people will truly do whatever I say. So the joke cult becomes a real cult. Congregated here is the united body of my dark celebration.”

“No,” says Electrakat. “Stop. It all bores me. Horoscopes, communism, yoga, music, the war, art, literature: all of it. I hate it.”

“Oh, so do we! We’re here because we want something else.”

She realizes that Otto Tod Haas has been talking for almost ten minutes and he hasn’t mentioned peace or love or capitalism or Mao. She can’t remember the last time she had a conversation with a stranger that wasn’t overlaid by a flagellating lattice of modern anxieties.

“So do you want to get out of here or what?” she asks, facing him full on. “You’re actually doing it for me, honey, which is a real surprise. But this whole scene is embarrassing for both of us. Let’s go someplace where we don’t have to be cute.” 

He doesn’t say anything. He still won’t look down at her body. His disinterest is starting to feel calculated. She turns away, irritated. Why won’t he leave her alone if he isn’t into her? All she wanted was a quiet drink and to sit and stew while thinking about her boss and lover, the infamous Harry Cash. She wanted to obsess about her boss’s wife, and her boss’s many children, and her boss’s ravenous and distorting ambition. She wanted to assess what this ambition (television, one of the six Great Workings!) means for her own future. She knows all about being a bride of Satan. 

All of a sudden a burly man with a single bushy eyebrow collapses on top of them from behind, laughing and belching at the same time—a lavish expulsion of scented, polyphonic pneuma.

“Tryna thump this dewy sinner, Otto Tod?” says the man, grabbing Otto Tod Haas and Electrakat around the shoulders. “Can I watch you root her into a swoon with your demoniac bloodmace?”

He throws his head back, laughing like feasting Jupiter.

“This is Fun Peter,” says Otto Tod to Electrakat. “He is irrepressible, though we do try. He is our primary patron and chief financial benefactor.”

“I can fist my own ass,” says Fun Peter. “I can pinch my own button deep inside me like tweaking a tit. I have a self-lubricating asshole. Very rare.”

“She’s not a consecrated member,” says Otto Tod. “She’s not interested in your astonishing feats of gravid nimbleness. You’re offending her and you’re annoying me. Begone Fun Peter: I banish you!”

Fun Peter staggers away, laughing.

“This woman with the shaved head,” says Electrakat when they are alone again. “So she wants to do whatever she’s told? You’ve brainwashed her or something?”

“It’s her fundamental desire to serve the powerful,” says Otto Tod Haas. “That’s what she tells us at every meeting. She says it suggestively, as a challenge. We don’t dig too deep. Practical Satanists help each other achieve our desires without judgement. We hold each other to the standard of honesty and not rectitude. Would you like me to demonstrate? No one has even touched her yet, which is dismaying. They aren’t really supposed to wait for me. The perils of leadership!”

Suddenly Fun Peter is back again, leaning on them, breathing more bile and whiskey into their faces.

“The carnal folds of the Official Victim swell with anticipatory ardor,” he says. “I can hear them chatter like wind-up teeth. We’re all waiting for you to break the seal.”

“Go on,” says Electrakat, shrugging out from underneath Fun Peter’s arm.  “Do your worst. Impress me.”

Otto Tod Haas now looks at her hungrily in a way that snaps a rubber band in her belly. Has she said the magic words? Otto Tod climbs onto his stool and then up onto the bar, upending a bowl of popcorn. This provokes a grunt of irritation from Vilen who angrily sweeps the kernels into a trash can while wiping the area around Otto Tod’s feet.

 “Good evening all,” Otto Tod Haas yells. “This bar is now a private club that is facilitating a religious ceremony as part of a commercial contract. Generously, we will not be kicking anyone out of this private ceremony as a result of our fall recruiting initiative. So that’s what is officially happening. As for what is actually about to happen, hail Satan and everything! Enjoy yourselves! I see a lot of new faces! Please be mindful of the borders of the people around you unless you are specifically encouraged to cross them. If you aren’t an emotionally adept person, we encourage you to err on the side of paralysis. And now, let’s begin!”
Otto Tod hops down from the bar and walks over to the woman with the shaved head. The Official Victim! As soon as she sees him coming toward her, she bounces up and down on her naked feet with her fingers in her mouth. She actually seems to glow as Otto Tod Haas puts his hand on her shaved head and drums his fingers on her bare skull. She lowers herself to the ground, bringing her own white face down close to the skull on the altar. Electrakat feels a flood of crackling adrenalin, unfocused rage mixed with claustrophobia and horniness. There is a cheer from the celebrants as they squeeze in closer, obscuring Electrakat’s view. 

If she wants to see, she’ll have to get up and elbow her way through the crowd. This would reveal her curiosity. Instead, she sits at the bar for a long time. She can hear sucking sounds and then grunts. Soon there are friction-squeaks and the custardy-slap of savage splay-toed rudeness. As the Official Victim’s seal is broken, everyone else in the bar—including Vilen— packs around the makeshift altar to gawk. Finally, she can’t take it anymore. She steals a jolt of bourbon from the unguarded bottle and then pushes through the crowd toward the only other man she knows here. She taps Fun Peter on the shoulder and he steps aside, knuckling his forehead.

As she takes his place on the periphery, she immediately sees that Otto Tod Haas has been waiting for her. He grins at her, turning to face her.

His pants are around his ankles. The Official Victim is straddling him. He supports her with his thighs, with one hand behind her neck. With his other hand, he uses a gleaming hook-shaped dildo in her ass to control the rhythm of her gyrations.  Another woman—a lady in her fifties wearing red pearls, red gloves, and a red Sunday fascinator—is on her knees behind Otto Tod. She would look like a blood-drenched Ladybird Johnson if her tongue and nose weren’t buried in his asshole like a raccoon with a trashcan pudding cup.

Otto Tod breaks eye contact with Elektrakat, whispering something in the ear of the woman that he is fucking. Despite this sex show taking place inside a public bar, the wall of people makes the scene feel somehow private. She feels trapped. She takes a step forward, separating herself from the gawking barbed wire fence of sweaty faces.

She is now inside the circle. What would Harry Cash say about all this? Would it turn him on? She feels vaguely dizzy. Her work life is bleeding into her bar life. Her mouth begins to water. Too much saliva. There is too much moisture everywhere: sweat, lube, spit, liquor.

Suddenly, Otto Tod Haas lets the woman he is fucking fall backward, sliding the hook out of her ass. The crowd rushes forward to catch the Official Victim, filling the circle in. They have been waiting for this moment. Electrakat can’t help but join them as she is pushed forward. A naked thigh flails in front of her. She grabs it. Otto Tod keeps fucking the Official Victim, plunging harder and harder into her as the crowd adds resistance but also rhythmic yielding. Somehow the crowd balances this tidal force, maneuvering the woman into increasingly felicitous positions to increase her pleasure, taking her side, metaphysically joining with her. Otto Tod is fucking the entire crowd, men and women, young and old, stranger and initiated. The woman is the crowd’s fleshly senator. He bounces against her like a living swingset. As the woman shrieks louder and louder, the crowd takes up her moans. What is crystallizing doesn’t take long to be smashed. The Official Victim shakes all over as she comes, stiffening and spasming, her yelps drowned out by the cheers of the crowd. Electrakat can feel the torsion of the Official Victim’s muscles in the swatch of thigh she holds. 

Otto Tod pulls out of her with a burned animal lowing, spraying the Official Victim with come like windshield rain. The Official Victim falls backwards into the arms of the Practical Satanists. They raise her up higher. Semen drips down from her face and tits, splashing the gathered elect. Stiff as a board, light as a feather. Electrakat peers through forearms and elbows at Otto Tod. The woman in the fascinator and pearls is still ruthlessly grooming Otto Tod’s asshole, but Otto Tod finds Electrakat’s eyes anyway and stares at her until she looks aside, her racing heart swelling into her carotid.

The crowd spins the Official Victim around like the statue of a saint in a Tuscan village parade. A thick glob of sweat-infused semen splats onto Electrakat’s chin. It is still warm. She wipes it away. No. Not good enough. He is watching. She licks the semen off her fingers. 

Otto Tod smiles. Having made her point re: her unshockability, she slips through the crowd to stand in front of him. There are scratches on his chest that are beading with blood, an interesting contrast to his too-white skin. She reaches out to touch his stomach. His penis is still twitching as it oozes, scaling as it twists, shrinking into his pubes like a humiliated eel.

“Let’s get a table,” says Otto Tod Haas, petting the head of the woman behind him who motorboats his sphincter. “We can just talk, you know. We don’t have to put on a show.”

“And her?” asks Elektrakat, nodding at asshole-hungry Ladybird.

He taps the woman on the head. As she comes up for air, Elektrakat sees that the woman is more delicate and finer-featured than one might expect. Otto Tod’s asshole is also rather delicate-looking, like a baby-bunny nose. Otto Tod pulls up his pants and gives the woman a chaste kiss on the cheek. 

“Nice to meet you,” Elektrakat says to Ladybird as Otto Tod steers Elektrakat away. Something about the whole ceremony has her dander up. She wants to compete: to see if she can get him as excited as these pathetic women only here to serve. 

In the dark, under the table, she tells him about her job as she strokes his cock until he gets hard again. It doesn’t take long. And then she empties him without breaking conversation, stroking him slowly, smoking a cigarette and telling him exactly why she thinks his cult is so vile. He then returns the favor and eats her out, crouching under the table like her winged monkey while she watches these attractive young strangers fuck each other.

She fakes an orgasm and then gives Otto Tod her address on a burgundy ruffle-edged luxury cocktail napkin.

“I have to go,” she says, wondering if she will ever be able to come back to this bar. “I have work in the morning. But you can sleep at my place if you want, when you’re done here. I live just around the corner.”

He uses the napkin to wipe her juices from his mouth but then he puts it in his pocket, smiling at her, looking her body over for the first time like a proper gentleman.

Cuspis Secundum (Dexter Manus: Terra)

The next morning, she is late for work at WNEW-TV. On paper, Elektrakat is senior assistant to Harry Cash—the legendary television producer, one-eyed drunk, womanizer, and former low-level OSS officer. In reality, she simply doesn’t do much all day long but keep him company. What Cash lacks in depth perception he makes up for in his ability to triangulate human weakness, what is known in the biz as “fathomage.” However, he also doesn’t really believe in what is known in the biz as “working.”

“Cash has a cheese grater for a personality,” Aggie German in HR told her when Elektrakat got the job. “But he never notices dumb stuff like what time you show up or how early you leave. He is too busy grinding you down and snorting you up. He’ll proposition you, no doubt, but he won’t be a heel if you aren’t interested.”

“Ha ha,” Elektrakat said at the time, feigning a blush.

In fact, she had been fucking him for years already. Now she fucks him at the office for the sake of his convenience. 

“You look unwell,” she tells him, plopping her purse down on his giant desk calendar beside his crossed wingtips.

“Big meeting this morning,” he says. “Military shitheads plus execs.”

“What was it about?”

“The future!” he says. “Satellites. The military shitheads always act like I'm one of them on account of my fucking rank. It’s embarrassing for everyone.”

She moves his feet slightly to the side to check his schedule. According to the calendar, today he is supposed to be coming up with programming that will air during the week of Christmas. She goes to get coffee, but as she turns around Harry sees the fresh bruises on the backs of her legs. He immediately knows what all those fresh bruises mean. 

He asks anyway. "A Satanist," she tells him. He gets excited.  

Soon he is fucking her over his desk with three television sets blaring at once, just like LBJ, just like Elvis, just like Cerberus.

She really is too sore for this. She makes him stop after a few minutes, tapping his hairy forearm that grips the desk beside her. 

“It hurts too much,” she says. “Have some common decency, you cad.” 

He wilts.

“He must have been hung,” says Harry Cash, slipping out and sitting down, the flaps of his t-shirt providing window-dressing to his hairy thighs. 

“Hanged,” says Electrakat. 

“What?” says Harry Cash. 

“Hanged is more correct,” she says. “Americans barely know their own language. And yes, he was hanged like an Italian parliament. His cock was downright sinister, bigger than yours by inches--however, you get harder and go longer. You are like an angry roll of dimes. I can’t, Harry. Not right now.”

“You wanna just get yourself off?” he asks petulantly, unwilling to let her rest. This isn’t a terrible idea. She actually is rather revved up, now that she checks her meters and gauges, even with her new contusions. She didn’t ever manage to come last night. Never does with someone new. She knows that this will be more for his benefit than hers, but he doesn’t have to sell the idea very hard to convince her.
“Sure, fine” she says, smiling slightly. “But I need some kind of stimulation. Rant about something! Project the illusion of interiority. Of secret mastery!”

This has always been their game together. The thing she loves about him.

“Mastery over what?” 

“Don’t care,” she says. “Get zorched up. I want to feel flecks of spittle in my face from your manful passion.”

“Something sexual?”

“Doesn’t have to be,” she says. 

“I’m going to jack off too,” he says.

“You can try if you want,” she says. “But I’m not going to help you.”

Electrakat loves Harry Cash in a real fucked-up way. She wishes this love was more abstract. For his part, Cash figures it is more ethical and more efficient for WNEW-TV to pay the woman he is already fucking (and provide her with health insurance) than to try to get along with someone new that he would only end up seducing anyway because of his porous, unpoliceable boundaries. He doesn’t really need an assistant. He just needs someone around who likes to listen to him. 

“So what do Satanists do for fun?” asks Harry Cash, flopping out his roll of dimes. His obvious jealousy (though against their rules) is a huge comfort to her. She can almost see the conduits of power flowing between them, arcing like lightning. 

“Satanists have a lot of ritual sex in bars,” says Electrakat, fingering herself under her pleated skirt, wedging her white tennis shoes under the crossbars of Cash’s egg-smooth swivel chair. “You aren’t ranting yet. Do I have to do everything? How about this one: do you think television has magic powers? Do you think television is a spiritual working that can alter consciousness?”

He snorts. His one good eye droops. He stops stroking himself.

“You mean like the Brits in Malaysia?” he says. “You mean like winning over hearts and minds? Oh, you dumb sweet jabroni Katzenfresser: how do you know that all this hearts and minds bullshit isn't how we LOSE the Cold War?”

“That’s a controversial stance,” she says, lifting her legs and putting her sneakers on the desk. He tilts his head to the side, trying to eyefuck her with his single bulging peeper, but she keeps her skirt down, primly hiding her slickening gulley like Christmas presents on a high shelf. Give me more, she says with the slant of her jaw. 

“It’s all these satellites, these goddamn private communications satellites,” he says. He leans back in his chair to get a better view.  She can tell he is frustrated, imagining how good her throbbing, distended cunt would feel. It would be hot with last night’s inflammation, tenderized and sparking. She works her fingers faster now, savoring his frustration. She gets it: it’s hard for a man to talk and fuck at the same time. Mostly it’s up to the person getting fucked to bewitch, to whip the carriage up the hill.

“Our country loves television and finance and sleek frictionless bullshit, like these geosynchronous rotating telstars up there,” he says, pulling out a bottle of gin and pouring some into his empty coffee mug. “We innovate, sure, but what our country doesn’t have are redundancies. We’re fragile. We’re becoming a nation of creatives, not survivors. Hearts and minds, everyone says! All these liberals! Whereas the enemy is investing in resiliency, not enlightenment. The Commies stay prehistoric. They’ve got redundancies everywhere. God, Kat, you have beautiful legs. Fucking smooth. Fucking strong.”

“Focus dammit.”

“What I am saying is that none of the Soviets or Red Chinese have lives worth living, which is a strategic choice. They’re all better off dead, but that means the whole benighted population knows how to struggle and cling to the cliff by their grimy fingernails. How to improvise and do without. Whereas we’re getting ourselves even more dependent on our sleek glossy tenderhearted bullshit. We’re losing our armadillo armor, trading it for feathers. Is this really erotic for you? Are you getting close?”

“Make your voice lower,” she says. “Like a growl. If you sit on the desk and growl, then it goes right to my clit, like revving a motorcycle. You’ve got a good deep voice. It’s probably your best feature.”

Harry smiles at her, his bleary popeye going half-lidded. He is silent for a bit, withholding, but then he does what she says, growling as he speaks.

“The problem with launching satellites into space, my dear Electrakat, is that nothing in space ever breaks down and degrades,” he growls, swirling his warm gin. “If it breaks, it stays up there, circling forever, dangerous, breaking down into smaller and smaller bits when little space rocks hit. We are building an entire society and stacking it on top of fragile shards of plastic and aluminum. We can’t protect ‘em. We’re trying to stack tanks on top of baby birds. We’re betting everything we’ve got on these satellites and it’s all gonna get smashed up someday. Why can’t people see that?”

“Yeah, tell me how it all gets smashed up, Harry,” she says. “Tell me how it all gets fucking destroyed.”

She wrestles with her top as she pumps herself, wriggling one tit out of her bra and then pinching her nipple at him. A treat for his hard work! He reaches for his fly again, but she puts her tit back into her holster.

“Me, not you,” she says.

“Seems like your mouth isn’t very sore yet. Is it?”

“Say it growling,” she says.

He smiles like a wolf. Her heart skips a beat and she fucks herself so furiously that she squeaks.

“All the adversary must do to take us down is explode something big up there,” he says. “This will create enough space garbage that it will shred up all our satellites. More importantly, it’ll make it impossible to launch new satellites, turning all of lower earth orbit into rocky shoals till the sun goes dead. Our entire economy of satellite-dependent services and supply chains will collapse. The adversary, on the other hand, won’t have forgotten yet how to improvise, how to struggle. The adversary will overrun us—seeing opportunity, not apocalypse—and sweep us aside, taking what we’ve made, chowing down on us like a bug eats its old shell.”

“They’ll fucking destroy us, Harry,” she says.

“They’re gonna kick us right in the old kid-shitter and fucking pump our guts full of Commie seed till we burst open like hot trashbags,” he says.

She squeaks. She writhes. Her feet slip as she grinds her clit and stares at his mouth.

“Are you close?” he asks.
“So close,” she says. “Keep going. Smash the liberal order, Harry. Tell me how we’re going to die screaming under those Commie tanks.”

“Hearts and minds won't work. But we might be able to conquer their dreams. Their guts. Their dicks, tits, and twats. When I was a rat-tailed sprat, all us kiddoes were obsessed with Ringolevio. You probably never heard of it, you dago pizza pig.”

“Never, Harry.”

“It was basically just hide and seek, but with jails and daring commandos. And guess what? Then World War 2 came along and then we were parachuting into your greasy boot—hitting Italy at all points from Turin to Sicily—and life for us grunts became one big international game of Ringolevio with the highest stakes possible. But the thing is: we already knew how to play. We’d been playing it for years, like how you hear about Eisenhower practicing nuclear deterrence by playing endless games of contract bridge. We somehow knew as kids that Ringolevio was our goddang future.”

“Unnnnh, yes, Harry….bring it home…connect the dots….win the war…”

“Kids already know the game they’ll need to master for their adult lives. So what do the kids play today instead of Ringolevio?”

“Tell me,” she says. 

“They play television. They suck it down like Fresca. They know they’ll need turn it into a weapon and get the adversary addicted. So we have to make the adversary wonder what happens next, make them need the rest of the story. We have to make the adversary want to tell their own stories and launch their own satellites. We’ll make everyone want to protect the same architecture and become the hegemon. It’s all we’ve got. Not hearts and minds. It’s tits and dreams or nothing.”

“Nnnnnnnnn,” she moans. She is so close.

“We might just win, becoming Scheherazades and Pied Pipers and Brementown Musicians. But if that’s the case, that makes the new warriors people like you and me. We’ll have to spin, spin, spin, spin our little spidery assholes raw—spin that gossamer story shit! Squeeze out television honey! It’s not like we could ever be WORKERS. You? Me? Workers? Nah. We’re not stupid enough. Dull enough. Racist enough. Does anybody really think workers could ever be in charge of anything? They like sports, not stories. Every good American hates workers quite naturally, because we are tap-dancers and we are con-men and we don’t want a quiet decent life: we want every goddamn thing there ever was, and if we can’t have that, we at least want the smell of it, because we can actually live on the dream, like muscle-back ballerinas living on rice crackers and lemon yogurt and a whiff of bacon…”

“Oh god,” she yelps. She throws her head back, shuddering, squeezing her knees together around her knuckles, almost losing her balance in the chair. Her sneakers grind on the plexiglass carpet-protector beneath Harry’s desk. She catches herself before braining herself, curling up and bucking around her own merciless hand. She is too loud, but then he clamps a hand over her mouth until she is finished. She licks his palm and then bites it. He lets her go.

“Gonna take a nap now,” she says, picking her panties up from where they are crushed against the television cabinet. 

“Fantastic,” he says glumly. “That reminds me. I have something for you.”

He opens his desk drawer and presents her with a long blue box tied with a red ribbon. He makes a trumpet noise with his mouth. She takes it from him dubiously and begins picking at the string.

“So what’re you even saying?” she says. “We shouldn’t build satellites? We shouldn’t explore space?” 

“We got tricked into space by the Commies,” he says. “But it’s already too late. Space isn’t where we should be going. It’s not where the story’s at.”

“So where’s the story at, Harry?”

“It’s in the flaming interior of the human soul when it screams in terror and spurts its last custard,” he says. “Always.” 

“So the story is in hell,” she says.  “You know, it’s funny. That’s just what the Practical Satanists think.”

 “If only hell were real,” says Harry, slipping his belt off. She opens the package and takes the lid off the box inside.
“Oh, wow,” she says.  

“You’re welcome. Now bend over. If I can’t fuck you, I’ll have to leave my mark some other way. And then we can both take a nap.”

CUSPIS TERTIO (Sinistram Pede: Aer)

“This is really Fun Peter’s apartment?” asks Electrakat, trying to piece together the disparate epochs represented by the clashing furniture—by the zigzags of slashed wallpaper, by the gleaming piles of insanely clean electronics, by the graffitoed deconstructions of real Renaissance art. “It’s not what I would’ve expected.”

She speaks with a level, hesitant voice because she is dizzy and slightly nauseous. Her penetrating gaze can’t freeze the swirling colors from the lamps and projectors. The mauling-mewling of thirty people all fucking at once is also affecting her equilibrium. Her hunger isn’t helping either: it’s Thanksgiving Day and she hasn’t even eaten breakfast. She’s been informed that it’s always better to have the big meal after the Satanic orgy and traditional bird stomp.

She and Otto Tod are Primal Emanations here, the Deep Lady and Deep Lord of the Velvet Pit. They sit on a dais made of stacked carpets in front of a roaring fireplace. They are still untouched and untasted, not having spoiled themselves yet by partaking of Otto Tod’s ripe and writhing congregation. The Deep Lady and Deep Lord are naked except for sensible boat shoes. This is to prevent slipping when they walk around on the sporadically-carpeted hardwood floors. Just as Otto Tod has warned her, there are fuck fluids awash everywhere.

“Yes, Fun Peter grew up in this very home,” says Otto Tod. “If you ask him, he’ll tell you that he was spontaneously generated like a pigworm from the sclerotic heart of American money, but he was actually born and raised like the rest of us. This used to be the room where his Gram and Grandy would take pills and fall asleep on separate couches. I like your necklace, by the way.”

She lifts her hand to the jeweled television set that bangs on her clavicle every time she turns her head. She presses her thumb to the glass screen. The golden rabbit ears plunge out from an encrustation of rubies that twinkle in the flames of the fireplace. She wonders if Harry Cash is eating Thanksgiving dinner with his family yet. She wonders if his wife has successfully convinced him to turn off the television while they eat.

“It’s actually quite heavy,” she says. “I suppose I should be grateful that it hasn’t given me a rash.”

“It was a gift?” he says. “Something custom-made?”

“Yes, a gift,” she says. “A joke, really.”  She watches a woman across the room suddenly gripped by both ankles as two svelte senior citizens—daddy otters, presumably a couple—open her up for a third man, younger, who seems to be making the rounds, testing each scene's tensile strength like a quality control inspector. 

“There are planets and moons at every orgy,” says Otto Tod, noting the drift of her gaze. “Some people find a place to fix, drawing others to them. Others orbit, pulled from location to location by the gravity of lust.”

“Flowers and bumblebees,” says Electrakat. “What are we?”

“We are the black hole at the center,” says Otto Tod. “Whole galaxies rotate around black holes.”

She tries to clear her head by staring into the fireplace, watching the flames leap. Are the flames happy? Or do they leap because they are being tortured? What’s the difference? Is television just another fireplace that hypnotizes you while somebody whispers commands into your ear?

Otto Tod leans toward her, steering her chin away from the fire.

“Are you mad at me?” he asks her. “Soon the bird stomp will begin.”

“No, I’m not mad,” she says. “Why do you care? Are you trying to date me?”

He smiles, crossing his naked legs.

Across the room, a woman flings a glass of red wine into the face of a man tied to a cross who has passed out from the intensity of his anal orgasms. He wakes up shrieking, clenching his fists as he twists against his restraints. If he is faking the severity of his suffering, he is convincing.

“A round of applause for our Christ child!” shouts Otto Tod, briefly standing. The Practical Satanists cheer. Otto Tod sits back down again, returning the fullness of his gaze to her.

“How do you say your Russian name again?” he asks, swilling his bourbon.

She repeats it for him. She was nervous taking off her clothes in the anteroom and Otto Tod offered to hold her clutch. She dropped it while handing it to him and her wallet spilled out, revealing her ID and passport. 

“It is so fun to say the whole thing,” he says. “Electrifikatsiya Mira! It is like sticking your tongue in a light socket.”

This smooth-tongued East Village Satanist is so different from Harry Cash. So unctuous.  So interested in the details of her—not just theory.

“My name sounds like electricity because that’s what it means,” she says. “To electrify the world—the mira. My parents still call me Elmira. There’s all kinds of ridiculous Soviet names. Marlen, for instance, which is Marx plus Lenin. Or Mels, which is Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin. There are some little girls out there called Barrikada and some little boys called Granit, which is the most socialist building material, I guess. The bartender at Dracula is named Vilen, after V.I. Lenin. It is hard to imagine any human less like Lenin than that bartender. He would charge extra for ice and straws if he could get away with it.”

“Neither Lenin nor Trotsky believed in tipping,” says Otto Tod. “I assume neither of them were very popular at bars or restaurants.”

A shadow looms over her. She smells the sour tang of adrenalin mixed with greasepaint. It is Fun Peter, in full clown make-up, naked except for golf cleats.

“The balcony has been fully prepared for the Nex,” says Fun Peter. “Bruce and Lonnie are ready with the projection. Do you want to make an announcement?”

“Are the birds sufficiently riled up?” asks Otto Tod. 

“They are apoplectic,” says Fun Peter. “I have been mixing their seeds with jalapeno peppers and cantharadin all week.” 

He puts a heavy hand on Elektrakat’s naked shoulder, grinning at her. She can’t help but look at him. 

“Cantharadin is a blistering agent that causes inflammation of the guts and testicles—makes them get all big and swollen. The cloaca on these cocks are dragging the ground! Ripe as tomatoes.”

Otto Tod twirls his fingers in the air, signaling that Fun Peter should get on with it. Fun Peter bows—cartoonish, overdetermined—and then slips away.

The ballroom floor adjacent to the library has been fully sealed to keep the birds from escaping. Sheets of thick see-through plastic hang from the ceiling all the way to the floor. The plastic reminds Electrakat of Marines in bodybags, though this plastic is clear, more like Saran wrap than the trash bags full of fresh soldier boy meat delivered daily courtesy of Indochina. 

Otto Tod stands up and takes her hand. The Practicals go silent, watching their Deep Lord and Deep Lady for their ritual cues. Otto Tod leads her up the side stairs to the ballroom balcony. The balcony is opulent: mirrored and chandeliered. It is lined with couches, divans, and foam padding so that the orgy can continue here in a more concentrated form. There will simply be no escaping the moaning and squelching now. At least there is more air circulating up here, she thinks. The heat from the fireplace wasn’t helping her nausea.

Below the spinning mirror balls and between the swirling lava lamps, Electrakat and Otto Tod take their seats at yet another perch of privilege, a cushioned and elevated two-seater pew in the balcony’s back corner. The Practicals can now fuck right at their feet. The Deep Lord and Deep Lady of the Velvet Pit remain aloof, however, removed (if only symbolically) from the press of flesh by their burnished throne. 

Otto Tod has not commented once on the belt marks along her legs and ass nor on the bruises on her neck and arms, even though he has been studying them intently, as if he might be forced to draw them later. These are messages from Harry Cash. Whatever these two men are saying to each other—using her body as a corkboard for their anxieties—only interests her to the extent that she will be expected to translate.

Down below on the ballroom floor, a thousand pigeons with swollen genitals, most of them with clipped wings, are hopping in every direction, trying to climb the steep plastic walls, biting each other, twitching their tails, their beady eyes glowing as their heads whip around with terror and rage. To Electrakat, they look like the way commuters at Grand Central must look to a snarling vampire who clings to a dizzying belvedere high above. Pitiable, these mortals.

The onion-faced musician who plies his craft at every Practical Satanist gathering sets up his Electric Lucifer. Elektrakat now knows that he is a popular children’s television performer named Bruce. While the orgy relocates, he flips switches on his array of turntables and computers. The speakers that are mounted in every corner of the ballroom buzz, spitting out exploratory beeps that swirl into the driving beat. His mistress, a manic woman who dresses only in skintight workout clothes known as Miss Nelson, dances beside him, her eyes half-lidded. Her confident grin is unsettling. She way she bares her teeth is like the final warning of a primate about to rip your face off.  

Fun Peter appears at one end of the ballroom, perching on the edge of a railing which separates him from the pigeons. He carries a pail in each hand. From one pail, he flings seeds down to the birds. Hundreds of birds surge below him, fighting to eat. They squawk and flap their wings in frantic flurries. He dips his hand into the other pail and holds it up, showing bright red paint. As the music from the Electric Lucifer settles into an atonal plateau, Fun Peter smears a crude pentagram on his chest. The red paint mostly sticks, but some of it drips down over his bloated belly and into his lap. He holds his arms crossed over his head in a martial salute, spinning to face Otto Tod, balancing on the rail with surprising grace.

At the other end of the ballroom, appearing from a small door above a jutting pilaster, an elementary school science teacher named Lonnie slots a reel into a film projector. He pushes the lever to make the projector spin. A roaring fire is projected down on the floor of the ballroom where the pigeons churn, their guts and genitals inflamed by the cantharidin. They flap their useless wings and climb each other, having no place else to go.

Fun Peter lets the projection wash over him. He holds up his hands, catching the projected fire on his arms. 

“LET THE NEX ANGELUS BEGIN,” shouts Otto Tod. The Practicals all seem to know what this means. The sine wave of the orgy compresses. Everyone seems to move a little faster and to gyrate a little more freely.

Fun Peter stands up on the balcony rail, teetering precariously. Electrakat can see sweat pouring down his hairy back into the triple folds of his dimpled ass, toxic tributaries draining into this muddy river. He launches himself off the side, cleats first. He lands like an Olympic skier, twisting as he grinds on the necks of the pigeons directly below him.

The noise of the first crushed birds chills her to her core. She feels her gorge rise. Otto Tod was right: she is glad that she hasn’t eaten anything yet.

“It’s Thanksgiving tradition,” whispers Otto Tod. “We can’t slaughter real angels, but we do what we can. There’s no difference between pigeons and doves, you know. Yet we have reverence for one and contempt for the other, just based on words.”

“Isn’t he worried about salmonella?” asks Electrakat.

“Fun Peter is not really much of a worrier,” says Otto Tod.

Otto Tod has tried to prepare her for the Nex Angelus, but she had no idea it would be so visceral. The other Practical Satanists don’t seem to mind. The ceremonial squishing of the birds kicks the orgy into another gear. The Practicals relish the gouts of pigeon blood, they groove on the pigeon guts splashing onto the hard plastic sheets. They mimic the shrill pigeon squeals, gyrating to the rustle and sweep of smashed tailfeathers attached to hollow vertebrae. They cheer at the crack and swoop of Fun Peter’s cleats mashing into the ballroom floor, thrusting in time to the bleeping whirr of the Electric Lucifer. The room feels simultaneously insubstantial and yet too intense, like the body-shaking agony of a tooth twisting out. The murderous symbolism unites the Practical Satanists way more than group sex ever could: birds of peace crushed to death by a man of chaos.

“Is this what hell is like?” Electrakat yells to Otto Tod, trying to stall his ardor as he pushes her down in the pew to fuck her. The way he grabs her wrists tells her that the Deep Lord and Deep Lady can’t avoid the press of flesh forever. “It’s so loud in here!”

“Sin always open up a portal to hell,” he says, mouth against her neck. “I mean that very literally. The bigger the sin, the bigger the hole. That’s how the demons move back and forth. But of course, most holes are microscopic. Demons can fit through the smallest crack.”

“How do you open one big enough to walk through?” she says. “How do we make a human-sized hole into hell?”

“It would have to be a truly monumental act of blasphemy,” he says, his tongue and teeth darting at her earlobe.

“What it I wanted to open a hole into hell to go there and never come back?”

“You could always kill yourself,” he says, pushing into her. She grunts, feeling his dick scrape her brain.

“If I killed myself, I couldn’t be certain,” she says as he slowly slides out, readying for another thrust. “I want to experience hell in the body I have now. How would NASA do it? Or Buckminster Fuller? UNHHHH. Okay. Be careful. UNHHHHHH. Oh god…”

As he fucks her, she turns her head to the side, staring through the sheets of plastic, watching the blood splash and the feathers fly. Fun Peter marches back and forth in the pit, naked except for his cleats, leaping and frolicking, annihilating every Columba livia domesticate to the beat of the beeps, a one-man marching band. For a moment, she sees a burning dot above his head, a red pinprick glowing like Theodore Maiman’s ruby LASER. Was it last year that she helped Harry put together a package for Good Morning New York about Maiman's expensive curiosity? What did Maiman say about it? She can hardly remember. Otto Tod grits his teeth, using his boat shoes for maximum torque, fucking her so hard that she sees grey around the edges of her vision.

Now she remembers.

“A LASER,” Maiman said just after inventing the useless device, “is a solution looking for a problem.”

CUSPIS QUARTUS (Dextram Pede: Aqua)

Harry Cash burns a ragged hole in the programming schedule with his cigarette. He sticks his pinky in the char, waggling it at her. When she doesn’t respond, he puts the hole (6 AM—11AM, 12/25/67) up to his eye and grins.

“Fine, then let’s talk about this empty programming block on Christmas morning,” he says. “I honestly haven’t decided what to plug this hole with because it honestly doesn’t fucking matter, Kat. Might as well be dead air. No one’ll be watching.”

“You’re wrong,” she says. “If we don’t take it seriously, we’ll get letters. People will be very angry.”

“I thought evil commie sluts like you don’t believe in Christmas?”

“Christmas is a very real and unavoidable phenomenon.”

“Listen, we can only get this wrong,” he says. “We gotta play it safe. I was thinking about running The Three Caballeros. Evidently we can show it for free any time we want. It’s some deal that the station made with the CIA. Pan-American unity in the Bronx. If you’re trying to watch TV on Christmas morning, you might as well see that horny Scotch pilgarlic Donald Duck lusting over pasty gams on a Brazilian beach. That’s the true spirit of Christmas! Mush-mouth ducks fucking foxy brazucas. Anyway, what kind of asshole sits around watching TV on Christmas morning? Just drunks and people about to blow their brains out.”

Harry’s love for his family is one of his least endearing qualities. Christmas for him is unimaginable without children plundering their stockings while he looks on with benign resentment, cradling whiskey-warm coffee in his hairy-knuckled paws. It will be hard to convince him of the erotic/Satanic possibilities that Christmas presents.

“Okay, so if it doesn’t matter, then what did you show last year?” she asks. 

“You know already,” he says. “Why must you tarantella on my poor sad balls?”

“You showed Mass and it was a goddamn catastrophe.”

“Yeah, yeah, some ten-chin PR dingus at the mayor’s office convinced us to show a live feed from St. Patrick’s. It was a bad idea. Swingers, Jews, Catholics: everybody hated it, even sentimental cops. Sacrilege, they said. Okay, you’re right. It’s a big deal. Fine. Listen, I’d show the Wizard of Oz, but we’re already showing that on Christmas Eve, when people will actually be watching. Maybe we could show it again? But you’ve got something else in mind, don’t you?”

Every time she closes her eyes, Electrakat sees the projected fireplace spreading over the panicked pigeons. She sees the dot of bright light that briefly opened over Fun Peter’s head, the laser point like the flaming asteroid Wormwood. Something hard has opened up inside her. Some turbulent tongue of incendiary propellant.

“I realized something this weekend,” she says. “Fire is loud. Very loud. It is almost like a rock song. The way that fire consumes fuel is the primal roar of the annihilating yule.”

“The yule?”

“The time of year when we grab a huge hank of the bristles of the sacrificial boar, make our solemn promises for the year to come, and then slaughter the boar and burn it.”

“Kat, this is the time of year when Dick Yorks in Santa suits get blowjobs from Elizabeth Montgomeries while Mikes, Robbies, and Chips watch Quick Draw McGraw Meets the Christmas Wolfman. Don’t be complicated.”

“The slaughter of the boar is called heitstrenging,” she says, handing him the book she has checked out from the Brooklyn Public Library, showing him the underlined passage.  “The sacrament of the yule is very ancient.”

“How many books are in your bag, crazy lady? Did you actually read all these books?”

“In Latvia, the yule log is dragged through the streets like a war criminal. People shout their fears and hopes for the year as if the log is absorbing these desires through the bark. The yule log is then burned in the city square. I assume that thousands of years ago, before Christians, they burned a criminal or a virgin instead, maybe someone who was meant to take their wishes right to the gods. Possibly the virgin with the sharpest memory was burned. The best listener, able to retain the most wishes.”

“What are you saying, Kat? You want us to burn a virgin on live TV on Christmas morning? I can’t say we wouldn’t get ratings. Maybe the Flying Nun?”

“In Catalan, the yule log is called Oncle. Oncle lives in the forest. Oncle is born when the elders paint a face on one particular log in the woods. The children find Oncle and bring him back to town, and then they feed the log until Christmas.”

“They feed him? What do logs eat? Twigs?”

“Pay attention. When Christmas comes, they cover Oncle in a blanket and then they beat him with sticks until he excretes nougat candy and trinkets.”

“Oh, like a piñata.”

“When all of the treats hidden inside Oncle have been disgorged, they burn him. The yule always ends in fire.”

“Where are you going with all this?” asks Harry Cash.

“The ancient Yuletide carol referenced in all the songs and greeting cards is the sound of fire,” she says. “Fire is rock music. Fire plus sin opens the portal. The more witnesses to the fire and the more witnesses to the sin, the larger the portal and the bigger the demon. The yule is the keening invocation of dark forces to save us from the dark night.”

Harry Cash stares at her. She shows him another passage in another book but he won’t even look down at the underlined quote. She shuts the book with a snap.

“Here is what I am proposing,” she says. “If we want to dominate the market share on Christmas morning….”

“…a dubious achievement in a contest that doesn’t exist…”

“…if we want to win, we must create something nice for people that will enhance their morning without overpowering it. We want something that will complement Christmas, not compete with it. To do this, we must tap into the ancient demon magic of the lightless north.”

She loosens his tie. She unsnaps the top buttons of his shirt.

“We will record a yule log burning in a fireplace with stockings hung over it. We will play Christmas carols over the sound of this roaring fire on a separate audio track, but the sound of the fire will pierce through and will be audible no matter what. There is an ache for this fire, an unconscious civic longing. Nobody has a fireplace anymore, especially not in this city. Fireplaces are mostly illegal for us poor unfortunates.  They are too dangerous. But this way, everybody gets to have a Christmas morning yule log. They will receive the visual of it, if not the warmth. Television is the modern hearth. We will make this metaphor real.”

She pushes Harry Cash until he falls into his chair. He looks at her with stunned, wide eyes. She steadies herself by kneeling by his crotch, sidling up to him like a big cat. She only has so long before he fights back, before he turns her over and takes revenge.

“A fireplace for the poor unfortunates,” he says, still stunned. 

“There’s more,” she says. 
She slips her hand down his inner thigh, palpitating his stiffening cock through his pants. 

“We can make the Yule fire into something special,” she says. “A magic spell. A secret message that means something to you and me. A way to keep us together. Because otherwise…”

“Otherwise,” he gulps.

“As you know, I have recently been attending Satanic orgies with my new boyfriend. Your rival. I want to record this burning yule log during our orgy on the 21st, which is the Solstice. You will attend. A single camera will record the log burning. The Practical Satanists will handle the logistics and the recording, but our studio here will provide the equipment and add in the Christmas music later. When you watch the burning yule log on Christmas morning with your family, you will remember what we did on the Solstice together while the log was being recorded, how we opened up a portal to hell together.  It will be like I am there with you, sucking your cock, even though you will be with your family that you love. Your wife that you love. Your children that you love. You will stare into the yule fire—the same fire that was burning when we fucked each other for Satan—and you will get painfully hard again in your silk Christmas pajama pants and you will remember how good my pussy feels, how limitless my appetite, how empty you feel when I fuck you correctly.”

This is too much. He snaps. He bends her over, pushing her arm up until she yelps, lowering her skirt and spreading her legs.

She takes the way he fucks her as enthusiastic agreement. 

A fornicative yes. The most ancient contract.

CUSPIS QUINTUS (Anima: Flamma)

She draws circles on the white wall of her apartment kitchen, imagining how she will get one arm through the hell portal, then her head, then her other arm, finally leaving this hinky, gigglemug earthly vibration utterly. Only a goon would go in feet first, as if easing into a hot tub or dark lake water. No, she will dive right in, a shrieking, raven-haired Samantha—bewitched!—shooting plasma from her tits, high from huffing that sinner’s longpork sizzling on hell’s grills. She finds herself staring at the black circles on the white stucco wall while drinking rye late into the cold night, starting to shiver and not really able to stop. She isn’t eating very well. She feels loose. Unmoored.

“I am becoming a vessel,” she tells herself on the eve of the Solstice, holding her hands up to the bags under her eyes and trying to squish them back into the interstitial flesh between her cheekbones and eye cavities. “Something is really happening to me here.”

“BYE BYE I AM IN HELL NOW” she writes on her wall beside the circles, amused by the thought of somebody investigating her apartment after her exodus and stumbling onto this goodbye vandalism, thinking it is some kind of suicide note. But she is the opposite of suicidal. You can only set an anchor in shallow water, she tells herself. In the deep water, you sail on through the night no matter how big a drag.

On the Solstice, the sun begins to go down at 3PM. Huge gnarly cumulonimbus clouds tumble between the Midtown skyscrapers. Despite the threat of rain, the air stays dry. She can feel the low-pressure system in the ache of her bones, in the restlessness of her bowels. She feels like she has summoned the dark clouds with her mind—clouds as stage curtains.

She needs fuel. Yuri Gagarin’s first supper in space was a tube full of beef and liver paste. For dessert, he ate a tube full of chocolate frosting. This was slightly better than John Glenn’s first dessert: sugar tablets dissolved in water. Walter Cronkite has assured her that the astronauts didn’t need many calories on account of the weightlessness, but Elektrakat assumes that hell will be heavier. Instead of a vacuum, it will be a feeling of total presence. It will be an entirety, a completeness. She will need as many calories as she can get. Plus there will be the orgy and all, which will surely require well-nourished muscles. 

On the way to the orgy, she stops in at a Chock Full O’ Nuts coffee shop, where the sandwiches are “untouched by human hands.” This feels right, the perfect sanitizing sacrament for the evening’s ritual desecration. She gets a Turkey bacon club on a roll from a teenager wearing single-use disposable surgical gloves and then she orders a “nutted cheese” for the road—creamed cheese and chopped walnuts on dark raisin bread. She eats the nutted cheese as she walks while licking her fingers. She freshens up with a coconut coffee egg cream and some Binaca Golden Breath Spray that she buys from a newspaper kiosk. The breath spray tastes like stamp glue, but she assumes that everyone at the orgy will appreciate this cursory attempt at hygiene. She intends to do a lot of licking and biting.

Fun Peter answers the door himself at Gracie Mansion. He is wearing a red leisure suit and a crown of holly berries. A candy cane colored strap-on dildo is slung low around his waist, but his dick is also hanging out of his pants below it. She frowns at him, feeling vaguely assaulted.

“The rhino,” he explains, pointing to the dildo above his dick. He opens the door wide enough for her to walk inside. She steps around him gingerly. He shuts the door and Supermans her: fists on his hips, legs wide.

“From behind I can fill both holes to the hilt,” he says, “Or I can flip you around and go missionary, switching up my fuck action as an oh-my-surprise. Wrong pegs for the wrong slots, that way.”

“Such recherché Knickerbocker class. You always establish such effortless instant intimacy.”

“Once you reach a certain age, all you can really offer women is terror.”

“Merry Christmas, Fun Peter.”

She makes her way to the library. She can hear the rock-and-roll roar of the fire before she sees it. Most of the Practicals are seated in hard backed chairs in dutiful silence. The camera is also already set up, pointed at the fireplace and flanked by two giant foil umbrellas meant to direct the library’s sparse light.

Elektrakat has requested only fit, attractive people over thirty. “Only people capable of making permanent decisions,” she has demanded.  

There is a new carpet in the library made of stitched-together lion hides. A circle has been drawn on the hides in drying blood. Elektrakat has been fucking Otto Tod long enough to know that the blood circle is meant to contain any demons who might be tempted to invade their celebration. This seems like poor hospitality to her, but she respects his paranoia.

As she moves into the room, she is pleased to see that her plan to arrive late has worked: Otto Tod and Harry Cash are both already here. They are seated on opposite sides of the library, both smoking cigarettes, both avoiding each other by staring into opposite corners. They turn and look as she enters and they each move toward her. She hasn’t spoken to either of them all week. They move toward her and then freeze, realizing that to converge on her means that they must move closer to each other.

“Don’t be shy,” she says loudly. “Have you shaken hands yet? Aren’t you fast friends? You both have the same hobby, you know.”

The Practicals seated around the room all watch intently. She can tell that her private life has become public knowledge here, but she is more relieved than ashamed to have everyone so interested in her. She is introduced to Mayor Lindsay and his wife, Mary Anne Harrison, as in William Henry Harrison. As in the great-great-granddaughter of Carter Henry Harrison.

“Are you Practicals ready to fuck me so good we open a hole into hell?” Electrakat says cheerfully, cocking her leg out jauntily. 

“YES O LADY OF THE DEEP PIT,” the gathered orgiants shout. The men and women rise to their feet. 

“No Official Victim tonight,” Otto Tod says. “Tonight we are all the Meat Elect.”

Otto Tod hands out color-coded necklaces (red, green, and gold) as a game, signifying where (and only where) each Practical might be fucked: mouth, ass, or genitals. Obviously the necklaces can be traded as necessary. “HAIL SATAN!” they shout, taking off their clothes, scrambling to tumble each other.

“I don’t see how this sex party in a warm room is any great blasphemy,” says Harry Cash, putting out his cigarette. “I realize that many people here are not heterosexual and we are in the mayor’s home. But don’t you people do this all the time?” 

“Sin is abstracted from time and place and causality and all that,” says Elektrakat, taking Otto Tod’s arm. “Explain it to him, darling.”

“Sin requires guilt,” says Otto Tod, appraising the Practicals as they come together like clashing armies, whooping and tackling each other. “You might bend down to pick up a five-dollar bill from the sidewalk and you might cause a ten-car pile-up. But those lives aren’t on your soul, because you intended something else. You may’ve been a bit greedy, but you weren’t intending to kill anyone. So no guilt! But what if you’d jumped in front of traffic on purpose, hoping to cause as much damage as possible? Same act, but the intent changes everything. With this Yule orgy, we intend fantastical, legendary defilement. We hope to subvert a whole generation, to poison past memories of innocent Christmas joys in future adults who someday learn the truth of what happened here. We hope to cause as much chaos to Christmas as possible, and it is the intensity of this focus that concentrates the sin. Additionally, we are engineering complicity: mass dissemination of our secret orgy spreads the sorcery to everyone who sees it. The sin is replicated by all those unwitting vectors who warm themselves by the fake glow of this fake fire, who sing along with the orgy-obscuring carols, never knowing the intensity of the wretched sodomy behind the camera that secretly informs every frame. Every discrete replication—every time the act is copied, even innocently—concentrates our perversion here. All the replicated fires burn together as one, throughout time and space. In essence, we are stabbing at Christmas itself with a secret dagger. It is a first strike. Unprovoked. Every time someone watches or films a burning Christmas Yule log after this, they are participating in our original desecration. Making it stronger.”

“None of that makes any goddamn sense, you know,” says Harry Cash. “Not one word. You can’t just make things your fault by feeling guilty about them.”

“It’s like you don’t even believe in god at all,” says Elektrakat, pouting.

“It is good to have skeptics,” says Otto Tod. “His callousness is the spiritual asbestos that will shield us from the devil’s radiation.”

She decides that this bickering is wasted energy. She comes between them, putting a hand on each of their shoulders. 

“If the hole we make is big enough, then I guess this means goodbye,” she says.

Otto Tod nods solemnly, pretending to understand. Harry Cash peers at her sternly with his good eye and then grabs her arm, bending her backward and drawing her to him. He kisses her like he is slapping her, savagely pushing her dress and bra down to expose her breasts. Yes, yes. Inevitable. She hears fabric tear. But of course that is the point. She wants them to show off for each other.

She feels hands on her shoulders. It is Otto Tod, coming up behind her. She turns to grin at him, making him slow down. He is wary. Good. Look at what I can inspire, she thinks, because I am powerful. She sees rage and hot lust flash in his eyes.

“Are we filming the fire yet?” she asks, turning away from him at the last moment as he leans in to kiss her, lowering her hands to Harry Cash’s stomach.

“Course we are,” says Fun Peter, giving a thumbs up to Bruce and Lonnie, who are hunkered down by the fireplace, messing with the A/V equipment.

Otto Tod’s hands are not gentle on her shoulders. He pushes her down to the ground, but of course she goes willingly, which must be somewhat unsatisfying to him. Now the two men face each other. They shift awkwardly as she rises up, kittenish, to undo Harry Cash’s belt, unsnapping the pearl buttons on his corduroy suit pants. 

She feels the Practicals around them slowing down to watch. Obedient dogs all, waiting for their masters to finish before snapping at the meat.

She grabs Harry’s dick, half erect already, and shows it to Otto Tod, resting it on her wrist as if she is modeling a gold tennis bracelet in a Barney’s catalog. Otto Tod wastes no time getting his own dick out of his pants. She lets go of Harry to begin sucking Otto Tod instead. When he is fully hard, she grins up at Harry Cash, excited to find the same twist of lust and rage in his eyes. 

Look at what I can do, because I am free. 

Otto Tod grabs her by the neck and pushes her mouth onto Harry’s cock, making her suck him violently.

“Is this how you would suck cock, Otto Tod?” she asks him. He does not like this question.

She moans, trying to cover his shoes with spit as she sucks. The two men are forced to move closer to each other. She steadies herself on the floor as Harry stumbles, losing his balance. This is what she has wanted all along. An alliance of them against her. Otto Tod begins taking off his shirt and pants, his throbbing holiday ham a warm presence beside her ear. 

The Practicals who have gathered to watch take this as their sign to resume fornicating with malice and glee. The room around her writhes with bodies in motion, sucking and pounding to the flicker of the fire. Bodies fold into fuckable furniture: flesh carpets and flesh chairs and load-bearing studs. The ecstasy of nullity ripples through the room as subjects are hammered into objects, as untested hierarchies become iron laws. No one can believe how lucky they are that everyone around them is saying yes to questions that don’t even have to be asked. What efficiency! All this is consensual on some level, but it is more fun to pretend that it is not and to revel in the nuances. They can all feel the mastery in how all of their troubled souls are being trafficked into the abyss. Not everyone is at the same orgy.

The two men take turns fucking her from behind as she blows them. She delights to see them become comfortable with using each other to cause her deeper pain and more intense pleasure. She sees them smile to each other as they realize how much more they can do to her with four hands. They become a real team, holding her down as they beat her ass until it stings, as they gag her until tears run down her cheeks, lifting her, true gentleman, to achieve sharper angles.

She tries not to come, but they both know too much about her by now. She gets off, screaming, frustrated and then mellow. The plateau doesn't last. Soon she is ravenous again and shows it.

Now they know she won’t fight back no matter what they do to her. No boundaries. No limits. Soon her face is twisted under a couch, gargling on a throw rug, as Harry holds her legs and Otto Tod drills her while insulting her in Latin. 

She is nearly senseless when she sees the prick of light again through her half-lidded eyes. It burns. The Pentecost. The LASER! She tries to struggle out of Harry’s grasp.

“Stop, stop, STOP!” she says. Harry, confused, taps Otto Tod on the shoulder and both men haul her to her feet.

“Look!” she says, wiping her mouth. Semen drains down the inside of her thigh, but she barely even notices.

The bright red dot hovers in the air right over the lion-skin rug. It is exactly the same color and brightness as the one she saw above the bird stomp. This time, she is close enough to see the contours. The tiny dot spins in a vertical circle, growing wider as the centrifugal force pulls it open. It expands like pizza dough on a fist or like clay on a potter’s wheel gone berserk. It whirls and distorts until it is the diameter of a doorknob. It is ringed by fire. The hole shimmers on both sides with an aura like oiled satin.

Harry, Otto Tod, and the Practicals gather around the hole. Internested circles. Wheels inside wheels. Rota in rota.

“You see it? Do you all see it?”

“Of course,” says Harry Cash. “But what is it?”

The Practicals maintain a respectful distance. They whisper to each other. Dicks go limp. People start to shiver.

“Are you doing this?” she asks Fun Peter. He shakes his head, his two penises waggling back and forth. 

Some of the Practicals put their purple robes back on. Harry Cash and Otto Tod try to shrug back into their suits, but Elektrakat won’t let them. Instead, she leads them by their dicks closer to the hole.

“Why is it so small?” she asks. “You can’t even stick your hand in it.”

Nobody has an answer for her. 

“HELLO,” she shouts into the hole. She puts her ear up to it, but she hears only the rush of fire from the roaring fireplace. 

“Are we still filming?” she asks Fun Peter. He seems strangely subdued. He has gone ashen grey. For the first time since she met him, he is not grinning from ear to ear.

“We are still filming,” he says.

“Why isn’t it bigger?” she asks. 

Otto Tod shakes his head. He looks like he is about to throw up.

“Maybe it will get bigger as the years go by,” she says. “As more people watch the recording. Sin is abstracted from causality and all that.”

Mayor Lindsay pushes through the crowd until he stands beside her, steeling himself. “I should break the circle. End the summoning. This is my home. It must be me who does it.”

“Don’t you fucking dare,” says Elektrakat. 

“It’s a glory hole,” whispers Fun Peter, taking a step closer. “A cavum gloria. It’s a glory hole into hell.”

“Then you should all stick your dicks in there, is what you should do,” she says, tugging on Fun Peter’s candy-cane striped dildo. He twists away from her, cowering.

The hole is indeed at waist height and just large enough to accommodate the shaft of a cock and the swell of testicles underneath. 

“Someone please break the circle,” one of the Practicals whines.

“This hole is the point, you cowards,” she says. “And don’t you dare stop filming. Is anybody brave enough to take what is being offered?”

She looks around at all the men, but they look away. Frowning. Bloodless. Terrified.

“Why don’t you all go ahead and sing Silent Night then?” she asks, shaking her head. “You’re all sheep.”

She peers into the abyss from a distance. She doesn’t see anything. Just shimmering fire. Maybe if she gets closer…

Harry Cash joins her, hunkering down, lighting a cigarette from the flames of the spinning hole. He blows smoke into the hole and it disappears.

“I’ll be damned,” he says. “Neat trick.”

“It must go both ways,” she says. “It must.” 

She kneels down in front of the hole as the Practicals look on, terrified, drawing their purple robes around them tighter. She leans forward until the hole is right in front of her face. As she peers into the hole, all the orgiants in the room seem to elongate from the immense, distorting gravity. The fire from the hole pushes on her eyesockets and her forehead. The faces of the people in the library squish and morph, becoming insectlike, their bodies as thin and long as stick bugs. The pressure on her face is like the pressure of a carnival ride. 

She puts her mouth up to the hole, opening it as wide as it will go, her hands slipping down to her pussy. Her lips go dry with char. Her clit throbs with the same exact elongating gravity as the pull of eternal damnation from the spinning orifice, the same exact fire. She closes her eyes, praying to the swirling red static behind her eyes for her mouth to be filled.


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(c) Miracle Jones 2020